As most of you know, I’ve changed jobs and companies since moving to Sydney. Last Thursday was my one month anniversary of the new position, and so far it’s refreshingly different.
For starters, I kind of feel like I go to nerdy kindergarten each morning. Everything is brightly coloured, there are fun names for everything*, nap rooms, toys strewn down the hallways, and signs everywhere that happily remind us to eat our veggies / wash our hands / get some sunshine / etc. Nerdy references abound — at my last office, Ryan North and Randall Munroe were obscure cartoonists**; here they are fashion designers. And while I’m not getting paid to play with Lego, there is a 2m long Lego Star destroyer currently being constructed a few pods away from me. It’s pretty much how I imagine grad school must be.
The big up side of the new place is that there is a really relaxed feel around the office, which is something that’s unusual for my sector. I think it’s because the tech staff really get a lot of leeway to do what they want. You have to come to work each day, but things like equipment, travel expenses, hours, the projects you work on, etc. are all pretty open. Here, the culture is built up around giving the dev teams a lot of creative freedom – and with sufficient freedom comes a sense of ownership that makes the work feel less ‘worky’ and more like a fun personal project. The unfortunate side effect, of course, is that the line between work and home can be very, very blurry.
As for the actual working process – it’s hugely different than I’m used to. The biggest thing is that there are very few deadlines or schedules as far as I can tell (possibly a byproduct of having no release dates — or maybe it’s the other way around), and changes just get pushed live when they are done. Projects do have time bound goals, but the idea of working to a date is notably foreign. The other big difference is that this is very much a web company. Almost all of my tools – business or development – are accessed via a browser window. The only exception is the actual writing of source code, which is done via the terminal (also different). For a lot of my day-to-day work, this really does require a lot of relearning of pretty basic tools.
To be totally honest, I’m not sure what I think of it. I think I’m still adapting. It feels very fast and loose compared to my last company, but the heavy handed processes are also the reason that I quit. This way of working is very much how I worked through University, so it’s not completely foreign to me. My 22 year old self would have fit right in. But, I’m not 22 any more, and my opinions around work, working methods and working culture have changed. Possibly to the point that I need a rocking chair and a shotgun – I’m not totally sure. In any case, for all of the things that feel odd, I can say that I haven’t yet seen a truly bad idea. Which is heartening. Things are different, but that’s all. I can adapt to different. Especially if different means remote controlled flying fish balloons, taking a plane to lunch, or having fake cats dangling from the ceiling.
*My favourite is the set of four rooms: Give you up; Let you down; Make you Cry; and Say Goodbye.
**OK, less obscure in Canada. But pretty unusual in France and Germany.